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Caring for our common home

Talk Given At:
Rutland United Methodist Church
Date of Talk:
August 16th, 2015

“Caring for Our Common Home” August 16, 2015

Colossians 1:15-17 New International Version (NIV)

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

“A Christian who does not protect creation is a Christian who does not care about the work of God; that work that was born from the love of God for us,” Those were the words of Pope Francis, earlier this year, My message today is based on his recent encyclical: “Praise to you O Lord – On the Care for our Common Home”

Back in April I was invited to Quebec City to address the Green Churches of Canada, an ecumenical group, Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox grappling with the big issues of our time. Among other things they were preparing themselves for the Papal Encyclical on our Common Home that was coming in June. It was a big challenge for me to explain what is happening to the Earth and Creation in both scientific and religious language, especially because I had to do it in French.

So it was a real delight for me to read and study Francis’ words this past month. This is one of the most lucid documents of this century merging science and spirit, and contrasting the message of Christ with the message of our consumer society; which exploits both the world and the poor around the world to satisfy our perceived personal needs.

The document is long and sweeping - it addresses the religious, political, economic, social and spiritual issues of our time. It is written to all of humanity. Some of it is deeply relevant to our place here in this community in Rutland. It is directly rooted in the teachings of Christ Jesus, and that makes it heresy to our political and economic system.

The Catholic Church will spend 2 years studying it – I have been studying it for 3 weeks, and today I have 15 mins! So smile and take 2 deep breaths – I am going to guide you through a tiny part of it by reading some paragraphs to give you a sense. It will give you a glimpse into the mind and soul of one of our great spiritual teachers. I have printed some copies, so you can study it also.

The Introduction begins:

  1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.

Pope Francis goes on to explain why he took the name of St. Francis: “St Francis shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.”

The first chapter maps out the global ecological and environmental crises that humanity faces from a scientific perspective – you are largely familiar with them – it is refreshing to hear a clear statement of these real issues from the church. The second chapter is a biblical perspective that he calls the Gospel of Creation, taken mostly from the Old Testament. Each of these is a sermon in itself, but I am going to move on because the next four chapters deal with issues that Christian teaching rarely addresses so clearly. In fact there is usually a conspiracy of silence. I am going to read selected paragraphs – just listen and let in the words of Francis. Chapter 3 is


For the complete text, download the pdf. When I fill in the text here, the web-site changes the numbering on the encyclical, which I want to preserve.

Francis ends with 2 prayers – I will read one.

A prayer for our earth

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.

You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.

Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes.

Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it,

that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.

Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth.

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.

We thank you for being with us each day.

Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace. Amen.

The encyclical can be found at http://w2.vatican.va/ , click Encicliche and the first one (2015), and on next page you can select the English translation (Inglese).

Direct address is http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco20150524enciclica-laudato-si.html